In its heyday a century ago, scores of horses were used to do dozens of jobs at Biltmore. Today, one utility tractor—with 99 HP—performs multiple jobs at one of the country’s most beautiful agricultural operations.
Biltmore has long been a Massey Ferguson® customer. Their small fleet includes Massey Ferguson tractors dating back 35 years. The nearly new MF4610 is the most recent jack of all trades making life easier in a diversified operation.
“Masseys are easy to operate and affordable to work on. They do the job,” says Kevin Payne, Biltmore’s farm manager. “The 1979 MF1100 is as strong as when it was new.” And he should know. Payne has worked at Biltmore since the year that MF1100 was purchased.
Payne loves the smooth but powerful shuttle transmission on the MF4610. At Biltmore, Payne and crew can be hauling cattle feed in the morning, cutting thick sudangrass by afternoon and moving rolling chicken coops by evening.
“The shuttle transmission is really nice when you are picking up feed pallets or baling, then loading hay,” says Payne. “It is a whole lot quicker doing anything where you are moving from forward to reverse frequently.”
The MF4610 does it all with a 3-cylinder engine that generates torque as well or better than comparable 4-cylinder engines. “I use this tractor to disk ground, and it moved through the field like the disc wasn’t even back there.”
For being named the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year, James Cooley received use of a Massey Ferguson® tractor for one year. He chose the MF8670, known for its continuously variable transmission (CVT), fuel efficiency and comfort.
It is not, however, his first Massey Ferguson. “We love Masseys,” says Cooley. “We’ve got 17 of the old 135s” used for bringing out peaches and light work. For parts, he calls on Nance Tractor and Implements in McConnells, S.C.
Adds Cooley, the vintage workhorse “was Massey’s special tractor, Daddy always said. The 135 is a tractor that everybody can drive. It’s easy to maintain regarding its parts and availability of them.”
As for his new MF8670, which Cooley calls the “Cadillac of tractors,” he plans to put it to work preparing peach and strawberry land. “We’ll use it for making the soil loose and ready for the roots to spread out on the peach trees,” he says. “And we’ll use it for fixing the ground for the strawberries.
“The view is remarkable,” continues Cooley. “It’s a smooth ride and the turning radius is remarkable. And, of course, it [has] unmatched power.”
A new customer had seen the clean, close cut Monte Innes, and his wife Julie, had achieved on a nearby property and realized his existing custom balers—who used equipment of a certain green color—were leaving money in the fields.
“This is the third RazorBar disc header we’ve had, and we now wouldn’t own anything else,” Monte says. “We get all the hay. It is a clean cut an inch from the ground.”
He also appreciates the speed with which the machine can travel in the field and on the highway. “It is awesome traveling down the road at 20 mph from one field to another,” he continues, noting how important that speed is when you’re working numerous scattered fields and dodging weather to get a sole cutting following a brief 70-day growing season.
The windrower is quick. “Today I cut 180 acres in six-and-a-half hours,” Monte says, “and I couldn’t have done that with any other machine.”
The Innes’ Hesston by Massey Ferguson 2170 XD baler produces bales that are denser, heavier. Because of that, Monte can now get 26 to 27 tons of hay on a semi trailer truck for shipment, rather than 22 tons.
“That saves us about 50 loads per season,” says Monte, “which saves us about $25,000 in shipping costs. “Our new baler is a home run for us.”
When Al Sheahan purchased a 12-row corn head last year to replace the six-row head on his combine, he had more than increased capacity in mind. He was also taking one more step toward implementing a controlled traffic farming (CTF) program and reducing compaction on the 2,800 acres he farms in partnership with neighbor Todd Myren near Nelson, Wis.
CTF systems, which have been more prevalent in Canada, Europe and Australia, are now gaining additional converts in the U.S., and for good reason. Research in tilled soils shows approximately 75 to 80% of the increase in soil density and 90% of wheel sinkage—both of which can ultimately limit plant growth—are caused during the first pass. However, CTF can limit the compacted area to less than 15% of a given field, compared to more than 50% from some uncontrolled traffic systems.
The benefit is to a farmer’s bottom line. Australian research over 20 years has shown CTF can improve grain quality and has the potential to increase grain yields by 2 to 16%.
There are other benefits, including improving fuel and other input efficiencies. Yet, CTF often requires an investment of time and money on the front end. For instance, Sheahan and Myren have purchased a variety of equipment that allows them to confine their footprint to the fewest traffic lanes. “Because all of our machines are set up for GPS-guided autosteering on an RTK system, we can use the same wheel tracks for just about every pass,” says Sheahan.
“A lot of our equipment already fits a 30-foot pattern, so the combine was just the next step,” Sheahan says of the Massey Ferguson® 8780 he bought used. “We try to plant no-till as much as we can and limit any other tillage to vertical tillage or a field cultivator. Still, our tillage equipment is 30 feet wide; our 12-row planter covers 30 feet; the sprayer covers 60 feet; and our RoGator,® which we use to apply liquid nitrogen, spans 90 feet.
“We have everything set up for 30-inch rows, with four rows between the tires on just about every machine,” he explains. “We realize, of course, that there will be more compaction on those wheel-track rows, but at least it will be limited to those rows.”
For more advice on how to limit compaction, including how to set tire pressure and the benefits of the front-axle suspension system on Massey Ferguson and other AGCO equipment, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/advantage/fighting-compaction-tread-lightly/.
Massey Ferguson is to update the MF 3600 range in both its Standard and Specialised formats. This will bring the range in line with the current Massey Ferguson styling, and also incorporate a number of new features which have been developed in order to meet the needs of the market.
The tractors from 69-102hp have proved extremely popular on livestock and mixed farms, and in their specialised format, for vineyards, fruit farms and growers of vegetables, salads and other specialist crops.
Rear linkage lift capacity has been increased to maximum of 3 tonnes, allowing a wider range of implements to be operated.
Steering angle has been increased as a result of redesigning the front support on the Specialised models, and is now up to 40.5 deg on the MF 3600GE version, offering easier turning in polytunnels and tight vineyard and orchard layouts.
Tractors in the MF 3600 V/S/F/GE ranges will benefit from revised styling to bring their appearance in line with the rest of the Massey Ferguson range and provide the same attractive look.
Updates include a new roof and grey side panels bringing the sleek family styling to these specialised machines. Appearance and functionality is enhanced with new oval bar lights, work and turning lights.
Models in the MF 3600 Standard Range also get the new roof, plus new oval turning and position lights and new mid-working lights.
Inside the cab, new colours and trim have been incorporated to correspond to other Massey Ferguson models.
A new indicator lever improves the control and comfort of operation as it activates seven lighting and alert functions and a battery switch is now specified.
Optional equipment includes a radio with LCD screen, MP3 compatibility via an SD card or USB link and the facility to store favourite stations. Memory back-up protects stored settings in the event of the battery being disconnected.
Production will begin on the new tractors in September 2015 and the updates will be previewed at SIMA.
Campbell Scott, Director, Sales Engineering and MF Brand Development said: “Updating the MF 3600 gives this very popular tractor the true Massey Ferguson family style plus a number of improvements that will make its operation even more user-friendly and efficient.”